Southeast pitcher Rachel Rook showing next step in her development

Southeast Missouri State junior pitcher Rachel Rook

When a softball team has won eight consecutive games, it’s hard to narrow down precisely what that group is doing well because more than likely, it is good at a lot of things.

That is the case with Southeast Missouri State.

The Redhawks (8-1) have been good at hitting, fielding, AND pitching, as they have strung together a phenomenal start to the 2020 season.

“One of the things that I’m very proud of,” sixth-year Southeast coach Mark Redburn said, “our players, and probably (senior) Claudia Gallo has been our leader in this, they are not afraid to take a (hit by pitch).

“That’s another way of getting on base.”

Southeast is trying to perfect every aspect of play, even getting drilled by 60-plus m.p.h. missiles. It will open its home schedule today at 4 p.m. against Kansas City (3-7).

The two teams will also play a doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Redburn cited his team’s offense for being very effective early this season, and with good reason.

The Redhawks have already scored double-digit runs four times, but of late, they have relied on their pitching, most notably, junior Rachel Rook.

As the Redhawks won their last three games by the scores of 3-0, 4-1, and 2-0, Rook was responsible for winning two of those.

“As a freshman,” Redburn said of Rook, “she had good velocity, but like with all good players when they are young, they have to learn how to do it at this level.”

Redburn used Rook sparingly (48 innings in 26 appearances) as a freshman but gradually increased her workload last year as a sophomore.

Her starts increased from three to 14, and this year that number should increase even further.

“She had a strong and successful high school career,” Redburn said, “but that doesn’t always carry over at this level.”

There is a difference between pitching and throwing and young players often do the latter more than the former.

The native of Republic, Mo. missed the opening week of the season with mononucleosis, but has bounced back and is showing her growth with her last two outings serving as examples.

“I think we caught it quickly enough that it didn’t get too severe,” Redburn said. “We ended up losing a week or so with her, but she is such a fighter and she wants to be out here so bad. When she came back, she was ready to go.”

In the Alabama State Stinger Classic, Rook went 2-0 in three appearances. Against South Carolina State, she threw a complete-game shutout with a career-high 13 strikeouts.

In the three appearances, she walked just one batter, gave up three hits, and struck out 23.

For that effort, she was recently named as the Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week.

“She has learned to develop and pitch at this level,” Redburn said. “She has added another pitch to her arsenal. But ultimately, it comes down to she has the desire to be successful and the work ethic to go along with it.

“When you have those two things, success is going to find you.”

Rook is the scheduled starter for today’s game.

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